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The Trick to Transferable Skills

I am new to development. I am learning full stack, how can I get employers to view me as a developer with a human service background?
— Mara Mara

When trying to transfer careers, transferable skills are indespensible. But how do you identify what you can bring to the table when it's not outwardly stated in a job posting. The key is in building your professional brand.

Brand building can be hard on its own so building one under the pressure of getting a job can be actual hell. With most of my clients, I’ve seen this pressure completely ruin the way they view themselves; if they’re not an obvious fit for the job, they immediately assume they won’t get it. I, however, am the king of transferable skills.


In my time I’ve held the following titles: 

  • Office Manager (at shared office space)
  • Marketing/Sales Support Rep
  • Business Development Rep
  • Sales Recruiter (in house)
  • Tech Recruiter(at an agency)
  • Customer Success Manager

To most folks (at least everyone I’ve met) there’s no obvious correlation between any of these titles—yet I specifically sought out each new title by leveraging my last. So what’s my transferable skill that gets me where I need to go? 

Relationship Management. When you remove the title and boil down each of these jobs to their duties, the primary skill needed was expertise in relationship management and a willingness to do what was needed in order to build strong, lasting relationships. Every time I’ve explained my roles this way, employers have understood what my goals were and what I could bring to the table. 

But I didn’t expect them to do that work for me. I built my own brand and presented it to them.

I had other things going for me and I tied those in too; I’m good with people, I’ve had plenty of startup experience, (I find once you’ve worked in a hectic environment and survived, larger and more established companies are sometimes drawn to you), and I’m great at public speaking.

Situations aren't always this clean cut either. This past year, I worked with an entry developer who had a customer support background. It’s hard enough for entry level developers to be placed even when they’re fresh out of Code Academy but for a developer coming from a very non-tech position, my client hit 8 years without a steady job. We rebranded her—embracing the fact that—whether employers realized it or not—a developer with client facing experience is super valuable. 

And she got her job.

I’m a huge advocate for startup companies because many of them will overlook what you have done and focus on what you can do

For some folks, that’s the little opening they need to completely change their careers. However, just because a company is young and open minded doesn’t mean you don’t still have to sell your skills— it just means they want to hear your pitch.

Building a professional brand is a strategic activity that will come easy in some cases and hard in others. Ask yourself this question every time you consider switching fields:

What’s skill(s) are most valuable to positions like the one(s) you’re tackling?

Is it ultimately—project management, problem solving, creative outreach? Then see if your skills/experience fall into one or more of those buckets. 

Need help brainstorming transferable skills? Download my free list to get those juices flowing. 


Got a question for the blog? 

Cairo AmaniComment